“It’s a very community-driven process,” said William Hubbard of Veterans Education Success, an organization that advocates for student veterans.
Veterans Education Success and numerous veterans it represents have testified during the Department of Education’s rule-making process. One of their main priorities is for rule-makers to officially close what’s known as the 90/10 loophole, which Hubbard says has led substandard colleges to hunt down veterans’ GI Bill benefits.
For years, for-profit schools have been required to get at least 10% of their revenue from private sources, while capping the percentage of revenue that could come from federal sources at 90%. The rule was meant to serve as a quality check and ensure that any for-profit institution was not entirely funded by the government.
However, money colleges got from GI Bill payments was not originally counted as federal funds under this regulation, so schools could use the aid to make up their non-federal requirement. As a result, Hubbard says many schools made recruiting veterans a core part of their revenue strategy.
Meanwhile, Hubbard of Veterans Education Success hopes that the proposed changes will help protect student veterans, the majority of whom are first-generation students and may not have a network to reach out to for advice on how to pick a good school.
“They’re very reliant upon counselors or guidance from schools themselves,” he said. “Unfortunately, this sets up a very unfair equation when a school might not have their best intentions at heart.”
“At the end of the day, even if anybody gets their loans or grants restored, they still lost time and that’s something students will never get back,” Hubbard said. “That’s why we really focus on preventative measures as much as possible.”
Hubbard said prospective students should always look at a school’s outcomes, such as graduation rates and how many students were able to repay their loans, before signing on the dotted line. They should also be wary of schools that pressure them to enroll as soon as possible.
“If there’s pressure to enroll next week or if you’re going to miss the opportunity to start with this new class, those are typically red flags,” he said. “Ultimately, the student should be the one dictating their own academic journey.”
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